C.P Company – reflections in orange
Back in the mid 1980s when i was a young shaver my first proper job was working on a ship taking scientists and seasonal construction workers down to the various UK polar research stations dotted around the Antarctic peninsula. I got hold of one of the regulation BAS-issued orange anoraks that were given to the FIDS living out on the bases (bright orange so you could be easily seen on the ice), reinforced cotton fibre waterproofed against the ice, a sturdy barrier against the cold, i kept it with me and when i got back home would wear it out and about.
In fact I’d wear it almost everywhere, going to clubs, see bands play, the Boardwalk, the Hacienda, anywhere and everywhere, it had toggles and drawstrings, it was big and flappy and obvious and had a trailing piece of fabric ‘tail’, i probably looked a right dick in it, but i loved it and it became an essential part of my wardrobe, essential part of me.
So i feel slightly vindicated as i stand facing the C.P Company flagship store in Marshall Street and suspended in mid-air, centre stage like some spectral haunting presence of Massimo Osti, is a lustrous bright orange jacket. It looks beautiful in the fading half-light and i’m filled with a sudden wave of nostalgia and sense of longing for the anorak i left behind in Manchester, caught for a moment in the afterglow of past and present worlds colliding on the mean streets of W1.
There are two things that inform C.P Company – The Mille Miglia and Massimo Osti. You can’t really have one without the other. Each is a snapshot of the others brilliance, forever circling in each others orbit. And both have defined how generations have looked on the terraces. The Mille Miglia is used as the universal currency of the football casual, which says something given it was created to celebrate the famous classic Italian open-road endurance car race of the same name. And again it says something of the person who created it that it fits so easily between those two environments.
Massimo Osti’s contribution to mens fashion is unquestionably a unique and exceptional thing. His was a world of design and function. He understood, almost instinctively, how to blend innovation with styling, what looked good. A clothing empire was built on his forward thinking and uncompromising ideas that still spans much of European footballing folklore. Not only did his experimental design techniques revolutionise what we wear and how we wear it, his creative ideas brought with them an all-consuming passion for styling and quality.
Even the dreaded ubiquity of the compass logo arm badge, abused to the point of parody, doesn’t diminish his greatness. It could be argued it was Osti who dressed Italian football ultras and redefined how UK football casuals looked (or at least raised their expectation of what it means to dress for saturday afternoon). His impact on terrace culture shouldn’t be underestimated or undervalued.
And it’s a testament to his ‘vision’ that ten years after his death Massimo Osti can still command respect and recognition through his work. His legacy remains in safe hands with new pieces retaining the elegance and enterprise of past creations.
The one downside is C.P Company jackets are legitimate prestige garments, that is, they are fucking expensive. And unless you do a bit of scally-scouse shopping, or scour ebay for some poor imitation, they are out of the reach of most ordinary people. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal? The ultimate in aspirational clothing is always going to be a hard thing to bring to the masses.
One interesting development is that C.P Company has recently been acquired by Tristate Holdings, a China based firm which includes Trinovation specialising in “luxury sportswear and technical garment manufacture”. This could mean one of two things; they turn it into a purely heritage brand with an eye on pushing the far east market with updated reproductions of their classic designs, or they do a Manastash and start blending east-meets-west ideas to create something a bit extra-special. Either way the next chapter of the C.P Company story (which is forty years old this year) looks like being a very interesting one indeed.
- Ten C / Navy Jacket in Orange
- Nycra Hooded Jacket with Arm Lens in Blue
- Light Sponge Fleece Logo Sweatshirt in Blue
- Slim Fit Stone Washed Selvedged Jeans
- Cotton Pique Regular-Fit Polo Shirt in Blue
34 Marshall Street
London W1F 7EU